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With the festive season come unique opportunities and that includes making money as Santa. Department stores and party organisers around the country are on the look-out for kindly gentlemen to dress up as every child’s hero right now. Make money and make a few children’s Christmas this year.
Santa Claus candidates are high in demand but there’s something for women too. Many need elves and ladies to play Mrs Claus. Recruitment has already begun, so find out how you can make money as Santa this festive season with our advice-packed guide.
Santas and elves are in demand from early November until Christmas Day, and occasionally beyond that too. Their job is to entertain children and adults at parties, department stores, shopping centres and even nightclubs.
To make money as Santa, Mrs Claus or an elf, you need to be available during the day for shop work or in the evening for parties and nightclubs. This sort of work would be particularly suitable for actors and performers. Ideally, you’ll also have specialist skills such as magic, unicycling and balloon modelling, but if you just have an outgoing nature and a good way with kids that can be enough.
Elves are in high demand during Christmas and those are generally women. Your job would be mostly to entertain queues of children in shops or outside entertainment venues. Elves tend to be children’s performers so it helps to have entertainment skills or previous entertainment experience, although that’s not absolutely essential.
There’re two main ways of getting this kind of work:
One of the main Santa agencies is The Ministry of Fun based in south London. It places Santas and elves across the country for all kinds of jobs, and it’s proud to have trained 735 Santas to date.
Work depends on various factors. The agency uses its younger Santas for nightclub bookings where they turn up at midnight and throw gifts for the guests. If you’re young, you may be also expected to work jobs where they need their Santa on a bicycle or unicycle, or to walk about a shopping centre all day. For those a little older, there’s more work doing the photoshoots or at the department store grottos where you can mostly sit down.
The Ministry of Fun provides outfits for its Santas and elves, but some people have their own kit. Yes, it’s a bit of an investment. But it does enable those performers to get additional work privately through word-of-mouth or by answering ads.
Yes, you read it right. Being Santa is a serious business and Santa training schools actually exist. If you fancy yourself a professional Father Christmas, that’s where you’ll be put through your paces in all things festive. The Ministry of Fun runs a Santa training school every year – contact them for this year’s dates.
If you’re interested in attending a Santa, Mrs Claus or elf training course but live in the north of England or southern Scotland, give Stuart Thompson’s Santa School a call. As a trainee, you’ll learn the history of Santa and get a thorough voice, costume and make-up training. On completion of the class, you’ll receive a certificate of competence and may well find work through Stuart’s company.
Agencies are looking for men with performing skills, good voices, the right look (ideally your own white hair and beard, and a large tummy!) and a kindly way with children. On the whole, they go for older men, mainly because they’re more likely to look the part. Younger men are also in demand, though, particularly for work in nightclubs, walkabout jobs in shopping centres and specialty acts such as unicycling Santas.
Get in touch with the agencies by phone or email and they’ll set up an interview. If you have photos of yourself in a Santa costume, that’ll help your application. Some employers may also ask for photos without your costume so they can see what you normally look like.
Looks aside, agencies may want to see evidence of acting or performing skills on your CV. Failing that, any evidence of experience of entertainment work, even if it’s just amateur dramatics, will help. For tips on writing a killer CV, check out our essential article here.
You’ll need to be available for work during the day and possibly in the evening for parties and nightclubs. Extra skills such as juggling, unicycling or singing can help you get more gigs and therefore more money.
Before you can take on any work, however, you’ll need to get a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check done. The DBS check lasts for three years and is essential if you’re working with children or vulnerable people.
Similarly to Santa work, if you’d like to be a professional elf, join agencies and check the ads. That’ll give you the maximum exposure to work. Contact agencies, and take photos and a copy of your CV to interviews.
Agencies usually look for petite women with performing skills to be elves, although some are boys or young men. Some elves only need to look the part and interact well with the public – particularly children – but the majority will need to have entertaining skills. Can you do magic, balloon modelling or face painting? If you already work as a children’s entertainer then it should be easy to land work as an elf.
Since this kind of work also involves working with kids, you’ll need to get a DBS check. This needn’t be a worry and you can find out everything you need to know about the process in our article on how to find out if you need a DBS check.
The right clothes are crucial – you’ll need to look the part. Some agencies will kit you out with an outfit to wear while you’re acting as Santa or an elf. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have this provided for you, we recommend you think carefully about what you buy. If you’re serious about making money as Santa, consider your outfit an investment. Along with your acting skills, this is what will convince children you’re the real thing.
You can get a decent Santa outfit regardless of your budget, although some fancy dress shops stock costumes that cost over £300. But unless you’re really serious about being a Santa and are willing to spend that much, we suggest you find a cheaper option.
One of the best value Santa outfits we’ve found is from Angels Fancy Dress and includes a pullover jacket, trousers, hat, belt, boot tops, beard and wig for £34.99. The website also offers costume hire. For a budget version, megafancydress.co.uk sells a basic Santa outfit for £21.99.
Alternatively, if you fancy a more traditional costume and don’t mind splashing out, try Party Delights for a great outfit for £130.99 or a deluxe Father Christmas costume from Karnival House for £249.95. Make sure you check what’s included when shopping – you’ll often need to get your wig, beard and boots separately.
Most costumes come only with boots tops. You slip those over your own shoes to make them look like Santa boots. But if you’d rather wear some actual boots, check out Halloween Costumes for great Santa Claus boots for £45.99. Alternatively, simple black boots will work.
It’s the little details that will really add to your outfit and make you look more authentic. So, if you don’t have your own, why not add spectacles. You can grab a pair of half-moon ones for just £1.86 at Party Packs.
Of course, don’t forget that eBay is full of all things costume if you have time to search and patience to bid. There’s always a huge choice and you can pick up things that aren’t available in the UK. The devil is in the detail – for all you skinny Santas out there, you can fake the bulge with padding from £3.99 on eBay.
The choice of costumes for elves may be a little smaller than for Santas but they vary more and can be fun to put together.
One of the best elf outfits is from Jokers’ Masquerade. It includes a red and green dress, matching hat and oversized belt for £19.99. You may want to get tights and shoes separately. They do some brilliant pixie shoes for just £4.99, funky red and white striped tights for £3.99, and even pixie ears for £1.99.
If you only need to get tights separately, though, you might be better off checking stores such as Primark or Peacocks rather than paying a delivery fee. Again, it’s also worth checking eBay to bag a bargain.
Rates vary a lot. It all depends on location, what’s involved, how many hours you work and how much experience you have.
In general, you’ll earn more from an agency like the Ministry of Fun than if you apply for jobs posted online, which will usually pay between £6-8 an hour. Still, you could even earn up to about £15 an hour. With an agency, Santas and elves can generally earn between £100 and £200 for a day/session. You may get travel expenses paid for too if it’s a special job. Apparently Santas also get a lot of gifts – usually homemade cakes and sweets. The perks of being Santa!
As you’d expect, you’ll need to weight the earnings against a few costs – like your costume, for a start. You’ll also need to have the DBS check, which isn’t free. If you’re employed by an agency, they’ll carry this out for you and you’ll be able to get all the information from them. If you’re self-employed, however, and applying through job centres or online, a DBS check is hard to get if you haven’t already got one. Learn more from our article on DBS checks here.
Also, bear in mind that many jobs won’t pay your travel expenses. If that’s the case, it probably won’t be worth applying for jobs that aren’t local to you. Unless they’re offering a big wage, of course!